In this video, Antoinette, a mother of two suffering from incurable blood cancer, shares her struggle to find a stem cell donor for nine years.
She has undergone eight different types of chemotherapy, and her myeloma has spread to her spine, causing 13 spinal fractures. While a stem cell transplant won’t cure her, it would significantly improve her chances of survival and potentially extend her life by 20 years or more.
The video highlights the disparity between ethnic minorities and white people in finding a suitable stem cell donor.
Individuals from Black, Asian, or ethnic minority backgrounds have a 37% chance of finding the best possible match, while white people have a 72% chance.
Campaigners are working to change this inequality, as patients are mostly matched with donors from the same ethnicity. One of the challenges is the lower number of ethnic minority individuals registering as potential donors, which is partly due to myths, fears, and taboos within these communities, as well as historical exploitation in clinical research.
The video features Natasha, who joined the UK stem cell register after hearing a radio campaign to recruit more donors from ethnic minorities.
Fifteen years later, she was able to save someone’s life as a stem cell donor. She shares her positive experience, stating that she would do it again in a heartbeat.
Antoinette continues to search for her match, but time is running out. This story emphasizes the urgent need for more ethnic minority donors to join the stem cell registery, as well as the importance of education and outreach in overcoming historical fears and misconceptions.